Où est-ce que vous allez réveillonner ?
wesk voo zaa-lay ray-vay-yuh-NAY? Click below to hear this pronounced!
Where are you going to celebrate Christmas Eve?
Actually, réveillonner is a multi-purpose word (the best kind, because that makes fewer words to learn). It can mean, variously, to celebrate Christmas Eve, to celebrate Christmas, or to see the New Year in.
So what do they all have in common?
Food! Specifically, food eaten late at night!
But wait, you say. I thought réveillonner had to do with waking up. True. Anyone who was ever a Boy Scout or in the military is familiar with Reveille (pronounced perversely, in English, as REV-ill-lay). And it always comes too early in the morning.
Reverse the thinking–stay up very late, and it comes to be time to wake up–and you have the makings of a celebration. Put a great feast on the table; come home from Midnight Mass (which really does start at midnight), and spend a few hours enjoying good wine, good food, and good company.
That’s réveillonner, and it’s an important part of French holiday tradition! By extension, the word is applied to other parts of the holiday celebration too, whether Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Eve.
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